The tragedy of Desdemona

Image: Mark Allan/Melbourne Festival

Recently  I saw Desdemona as part of the Melbourne Festival. It is a provocative production (half music concert, half recitation) based on the character of Desdemona from Shakespeare’s Othello. The play’s key theme of ‘otherness’ could be the subject of this blog… And it’s not…

What struck me most was the conversation amongst my friends after the show. Everyone agreed that the acting of the lead – Tina Benko was technically brilliant. In one evening she played Desdemona, Othello, Iago, and others.

And yet there was a strong view amongst many in my group that she hadn’t ‘owned’ any of those parts. The acting was great – but was she a great actor?’ was the question being debated.

This led me to think about leadership; leaders who are technically great, and yet don’t seem to own their part.

You might recall someone you know who is well versed in leadership theory, but who comes across as playing a game rather than truly leading? Or perhaps another who understands the mechanics of emotional intelligence, and yet is awkward in the way they relate to people?

Knowing the technical skills of leadership doesn’t make you a great leader any more than knowing the skills of acting makes you a great actor.

What do you need to do to fully embrace your role as leader?

Have an Extraordinary day.